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Saturday, June 20, 2020
Voice of America, hit with Wednesday Massacre, Now Spouts Trump Propaganda; other News
The man appointed by Donald Trump to head the US global media agency that oversees Voice of America (VOA) and other state-funded broadcasters has carried out a purge of career officials at the top levels of the organisation and installed Trump loyalists.
The action by Michael Pack appeared to confirm fears that Trump wanted to turn the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) into a loyal state broadcaster of the kind normally found in authoritarian societies
Pack, a conservative film-maker and ally of right-wing ideologue Stephen Bannon, fired the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund according to CNN, which quoted an official as calling the dismissals the “Wednesday night massacre”. The head of VOA resigned after Pack won Senate confirmation.
Pack has installed Emily Newman, a former adviser to the Department of Homeland Security, as the new chief of staff, according to CNBC.
Newman issued an all-staff memo announcing the new hierarchy and telling them: “Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval” of the new executives.
“As feared, Michael Pack has confirmed he is on a political mission to destroy the USAGM’s independence and undermine its historic role,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said in a statement quoted by CNN.
“The wholesale firing of the agency’s network heads, and disbanding of corporate boards to install President Trump’s political allies is an egregious breach of this organisation’s history and mission from which it may never recover.”
Eliot Engel, the Democratic chair of House foreign affairs committee, had warned of a coming purge on Tuesday night.
“My fear is that USAGM’s role as an unbiased news organisation is in jeopardy under his leadership. USAGM’s mission is ‘to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy’ – not to be a mouthpiece for the president in the run-up to an election,” Engel said in his statement
Yet at the same time the seven-day average of daily coronavirus deaths has fallen by 23 percent — from 952 on June 1 to 731 on June 16. This disconnect between cases and deaths is even more pronounced in states where cases are on the rise, and where one would expect deaths to follow suit. In Florida, for instance, the seven-day average of new daily cases has nearly tripled since the start of the month, soaring from 726 on June 1 to 2,015 on June 16.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration took former national security adviser John Bolton to court in a last-ditch attempt to halt the June 23 publication of his memoir “The Room Where It Happened.” Almost at the same time, however, news outlets began publishing revealing excerpts of Bolton's experiences in the White House between 2018 and 2019. While legal experts say the government has little hope in stopping the book's release, as hundreds of thousands of copies have already been mailed out across the globe, that won't necessarily inoculate Bolton from potential criminal and civil penalties.
It goes without saying that the death of George Floyd was shameful and wrong. It's encouraging that so many Americans are finding common cause with black Americans on the issue of police brutality, but they are wrong to have accepted uncritically the claim that systemic racism against blacks infects nearly all aspects of America and its institutions. This corrosive claim has now been embraced by titans of the tech and financial industries like Facebook, Google, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America.
Dana Kopel testified that New York City police kicked her in the jaw and bound her wrists so tightly with zipties her hands turned blue, leaving one hand numb with nerve damage weeks after she marched through the Bronx to protest the killing of George Floyd. Jeffrey Castillo displayed cuts on his knees, bruises on his arms and a scar on his shoulder he said was caused after six officers knocked him off his bike while he chanted against police violence in Manhattan's West Village. One by one, some of the protesters who have filled city streets since Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody in May described being injured by New York Police Department officers at a virtual public hearing called by state Attorney General Letitia James, which spilled into a second day on Thursday.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday she won't be wearing a mask at the president's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Saturday, calling it a "personal choice." She said not wearing a mask still complies with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, telling reporters Friday that masks are recommended but not required. That recommendation from the CDC reads, "Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar won't be former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate. The Minnesota senator took her name off the list of possible running mates Thursday, saying "this is a moment to put a woman of color" on the Democratic ticket. "America must seize on the moment and I truly believe — as I actually told the VP last night when I called him — that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket," she told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell in an exclusive interview Thursday night2,526
During the coronavirus pandemic, employers have opposed unionization elections even as workers' activism over safety protections, job security and wages has increased in the face of an economic shutdown and health fears. The number of resolved union election cases at the National Labor Relations Board dropped from 84 in March 2020 to 13 in April 2020 as the pandemic raged. Several of the delayed union elections then had petitions withdrawn or have yet to be scheduled.
The next top Air Force enlisted leader is a woman, the first to ever serve as the highest ranking enlisted non-commissioned officer of a U.S. military branch. The19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force will be JoAnne Bass, currently the command chief master sergeant for the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, the service announced Friday. Airmen "are counting on leaders like me to make a positive impact in their lives," Bass said in a video posted by Wright on social media.
A woman who allegedly set fire to two police cars during protests in Philadelphia was tracked down by the FBI using information from social media including Etsy, Instagram, and LinkedIn, reports have said. Prosecutors announced on Wednesday that Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal had been charged with arson for allegedly setting two police cars alight amid George Floyd protests on 30 May. It only took a matter of days for investigators to track the woman down, according to a report by Vice, by using a number of open-source information to identify her and subsequently make an arrest.
When President Trump last week scheduled a campaign rally on June 19th, or Juneteenth, it drew immediate criticism. It is a holiday for many, but in the era of global Black Lives Matter protests it has an even greater significance. What does June 19th mean in 2020?
For now, Virginia still can't remove massive Lee statueA judge on Thursday extended a court order preventing Virginia's governor from removing a historic statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a famed avenue in the former capital of the Confederacy. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo ruled that an earlier 10-day injunction will continue while a lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam plays out. Northam, a Democrat, recently ordered the statue's removal, citing the pain gripping the nation over the videotaped killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.
President Donald Trump repeated an assertion that coronavirus testing is "overrated" and said he would not seek widespread screenings if there is a nationwide spike, his latest broadside against an effort that public health experts say is critical to containing the virus. "I personally think testing is overrated, even though I created the greatest testing machine in history," Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Thursday. The president has been ratcheting up his criticism of coronavirus testing for weeks to explain a rise in daily confirmed cases found in several Sun Belt states.
The U.S. allowed just 39 unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border to stay and seek refuge in the country last month as immigration officials continued to expel most border-crossers, regardless of their age, under an emergency order the Trump administration says is needed to contain the coronavirus. In May, officials at the southern border carried out 1,001 arrests of unaccompanied children, who are encountered without parents or legal guardians. The low number of referrals to the refugee agency in May is part of an unprecedented decline in the admissions of unauthorized migrant minors since March, when the expulsions policy was implemented.334